On Dec. 14, 2012, Bonnie Lee Rabe, Orlean Beeson School of Education interim dean, learned of the tragic events taking place at Sandy Hook Elementary School just two exits from her university. “An event like that changes you,” said Rabe through tears. In the days following, she learned that a former student lost her life and a colleague lost his daughter.
Orlean Beeson School of Education seeks to not only empower its students to educate, lead and serve, but also to enrich the communities in which the school serves. The events that took place at Columbine, Sandy Hook and Marjory Stoneman Douglas are forever etched into memories. For Orlean Beeson School of Education faculty and administration, these events and others raised the question “what can we do to protect our local districts?” In early 2018, discussions surrounding a curriculum devoted to school violence prevention began.
“I believe that early identification and prevention is the answer,” said Rabe. “Our goal is to take every measure possible to ensure that classrooms and schools are safe.” The education school solicited the assistance of consultant and author of Ending School Shootings: School and District Tools for Prevention and Action, Jonathan Doll for curriculum development.
The curriculum will be delivered to Alabama districts through a five-year, systems change initiative. The B.A.D.G.E. Conference: Preventing School Violence is an innovative strategy intended to equip Alabama educators and school leaders with the tools they need to better understand the causes of school violence and thus notice signs, act and eliminate school violence before it begins.
On Jan. 8 and 9, Orlean Beeson School of Education hosted the first session of the series. The session focused on Behavior: educator behavior, family behavior, institutional behavior, and what changes must to come in each to best support students. Participants compared school behavior support and academic support, analyzed risk factors and triggers, assessed character strengths and conflict resolution, and discussed the importance of “pro-action” versus “re-action.” Upon completion of the behavior curriculum and discussion, participants began developing an action plan for implementation in their schools and organizations. The education school will continue to network with participants and assist with the implementation of the behavior action plan over the next year before participants reconvene for session two.
“Following nearly every tragic instance that has taken place, we see the perpetrator had previous reports of behavior, attitude and delinquency,” said Rabe. “Because of what we know, our focus is not to teach schools how to stop an active shooter or create an emergency readiness plan, these issues are being actively addressed across the country. Those skills are important, but our goal through B.A.D.G.E. is to empower school districts to prevent these catastrophic events through early identification and intervention.”
“We felt that it was important to start with behavior because we know hurt students, hurt students,” said Rabe. “We must start by teaching these behavioral skills at a young age and help all students appropriately handle hurt and disappointment.”
Future B.A.D.G.E. Conference topics include:
Year 1: Behavior, Applying Behavioral Skills
Year 2: Attitudes, Reforming Attitudes
Year 3: Delinquency, Reaching All Groups
Year 4: Growth Mindset and Gradual Release
Year 5: Elevating Excellence, Sustainability
The 2019 session was made possible, in part, by Katie and Collin King and the Orlean Beeson School of Education Dean’s Executive Council. The event was coordinated under the leadership of David Finn, Orlean Beeson School of Education professor, and Tarsha Bluiett, Orlean Beeson School of Education associate professor and M.S.E. in Elementary Education director.